The competition for Pro Tour licences will be as fierce as ever this year as 14 teams vie for just eight available places in the top league of the sport.
The deadline for applications closed on Sunday with eight current ProTour teams seeking renewal of their licences and six other teams currently outside the ProTour hoping to gain entry into it.
Amongst those requesting new ProTour licences are French teams Bbox Bouygues Télécom and Cofidis who both lost their ProTour licences when they were up for renewal last September.
The BMC and Vacansoleil teams are also looking to climb up from Pro-Continental level, while the Australian registered Pegasus Sports -operators of the Fly V Australia team- hope to ascend two rungs of the ladder from UCI Continental level.
One other organisation currently without a Pro Tour licence but almost certain of getting one is the applicant simply listed as The Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project – set to be the new home of the Schleck brothers.
These six applicants will no doubt be of concern to some of the teams looking to renew their licences.
While squads like HTC-Columbia and Liquigas are almost certain of seeing theirs reissued, the case is not so clear cut for the likes of Euskaltel, Geox (currently Footon-Servetto) or even Astana who have been embarrassed by doping or financial problems in recent years.
French squad FDJ have also applied to have their licence renewed, as have the teams behind Milram and Caisse d’Epargne whose sponsors will be leaving them this year. Last week, Spanish Telecoms company Telefonica-Movistar announced they’d be taking over from Caisse d’Epargne.
“Only those teams fulfilling a series of very strict criteria (excellent performance in sporting terms – the most important criterion; unconditional respect of ethics; assurance of financial stability and effective administration) will be granted a licence which affords the right, and obligation, to participate in all UCI ProTour events,” read a communiqué from the UCI.
Ten other teams -including Sky, Garmin Transitions and Saxo Bank- already have valid Pro Tour licences for next year.
An announcement of the eight teams to be awarded new licences for 2011 will be made on November 20.